War Progress

I don’t mean how the war is progressing, I mean the progress we can make while contemplating wars. Some devotees can also make enormous progress during the war itself, as letters from places like Mariupol shows. Some devotees can also become overwhelmed by circumstances and descend into bodily consciousness. In this sense wars are like diseases, vyadhi – we can talk about symptoms, causes, and cures, but the bottom line is that one’s consciousness becomes degraded and one cannot worship the Lord normally anymore. King Kulashekhara’s prayer comes to mind here – at the time of death chanting will be impossible, and this can be extended to the time of war, too. I don’t want to discuss experiences of devotees in Ukraine – what do I know about that? I’d rather talk what use can arm chair generals like myself extract from contemplating wars.

First thing – wars prove that the world isn’t flat. Suddenly we see that some moral values matter more than the others and there is no equality between them, no flatness. When discussing wars people usually mention politics or economics, maybe history, but not morals. Morals are treated as one undifferentiated blob and at best one thing is taken out of it as a moral justification, something like “historical injustice”, but this doesn’t do actual justice to the place morals play in wars.

Modern wars have become somewhat sanitized – waged by governments which hire soldiers to fly to some distant places and all we get is pictures and videos in the media. The media can create an environment where public feels that their government decisions are justified and that the opposing side are definitely bad guys, but designating someone as a bad guy and celebrating victories shown on TV is not the same as going to war. Morals do not actually get involved here, it’s only a lot of huffing and puffing about nothing.

By contrast, conflict over Ukraine is a conflict of convictions deeply held by entire societies, not just by a few individuals in charge. What’s interesting, however, is that they all draw from the same pool of moral values, they have all the same ingredients, but they select different ones to put at the top of their hierarchies. I mean it’s not that no one understands Russian concerns about NATO missiles being potentially put in Ukraine, and it’s not that Russians don’t understand the value of independence, but when they create dominant-subordinate relationships between these two ideas they make opposite choices of what should come first.

This goes back to Putin’s redline – no missiles in Ukraine. Easy to understand but, as it turns out, impossible to take it seriously. Sure he didn’t mean that it would override Ukraine’s right to self-determination, but Putin made it clear – it’s a redline, nothing else matters when it comes to redlines. Ukrainian quest for independence was dismissed with one rhyme, in English it would be “like it or don’t like it, but have to tolerate it”. It also sounded a bit rapey when Putin said it and for a few hours western media puzzled over what he meant exactly, and then they moved on, but Putin didn’t. Redline was still a redline and Ukrainian independence had to be patient and take subordinate role.

I admit I don’t understand Ukrainian case for resistance here. Sure, they don’t want to be dictated who can and who cannot put whatever missiles in their country, but the very quest for independence is illusory. No one is independent in this world and Ukrainians themselves don’t want independence either. What they want is to be dependent on the West instead of Russia. They want to join NATO, they want to join EU – they want to belong somewhere. Where is quest for independence?

Maybe it’s just me, but their entire narrative nicely fits into this two minute cartoon:

You don’t need to understand Ukrainian here – there are two girls growing next to each other. One is a good one and the other is bad, then the good one gets new friends but the bad one cannot accept it and tries to spoil it. Such a nasty character. It’s simple. It’s also about as serious as their medium of choice – it’s cartoonish.

If they take this narrative seriously and Russians don’t then it illustrates my point – people put different relative values on otherwise commonly acknowledged things.

It’s not that Russians don’t want to be a member of European family, this is patently ridiculous, but after thirty years they came to a curious realization, also based on lists of moral values, btw. So someone compiled a list of Western values and a list of Russian values and observed that Russian list is longer and therefore Russia can’t fit into Europe in a same way a bigger thing cannot fit into a smaller hole. Well, actually they meant American values and even that representation was probably unfair, but I was surprised by their mode of thinking. Sample argument – Russians traditionally place high value on cooperation and collectivism so that welfare of the whole matters more than welfare of individual parts. Can this be accommodated in the western world? No, that smells like communism and will be misunderstood and rejected, generally speaking. Therefore Russians cannot express themselves through Western framework, and after many years of trying in frustration we come to the point where they say “dhik dhik”. This means “to hell with it” in Sanskrit, repeated twice).

This makes it a choice for keeping one’s own identity and big words like “self-actualization”. Russians here want to be themselves and nothing can stand in their way. I can’t say the same about Ukrainians, however. Their desire to become European does not go beyond having more money and better stuff to buy with it. Perhaps it’s Russian propaganda but I hear stories of Ukrainian refugees refusing to get a job when they arrive in Europe. They think that since they are suffering from evil Russians then Europeans will give them free place to live and monthly stipend to go with it. Someone called a friend in France and made their case “I want to show Paris to my children, can you recommend a free place to stay for refugees for two-three days?” The reply was “You are a refugee, not a tourist, and, in any case, France is not in the business of providing free hotels.”

What I mean to say is that Ukrainian idea of Europe is cartoonish and so for them it becomes a case of seeking a new identity instead of coming to terms with their existing one. I mean if Russians want to be themselves then Ukrainians want to be anyone else but Ukrainians. Just by comparing these two approaches to life makes me conclude that there is no real case for Ukraine in this war.

Another lesson is that “democracy” is an illusory concept, too. It’s not what gives countries their power. British empire got prosperous because it subjugated a lot of countries all around the world, not because of “democracy”. The US got a good chunk of Europe after WWII and made these countries into American vassals who aren’t allowed to make any serious decisions without American approval. Example – the fate of Nord Stream 2 is decided in Washington, not Berlin. Better example yet is that if you look at the map of countries that joined Russian sanctions you will see that it very nicely corresponds with the map of countries occupied by the US in WWII. They can’t disagree, they are not allowed to, they all have to toe the same line. To restate the same point – democracy is a distraction for the masses, real power lies in military and political dominance, just as it has always been, and it’s coming from Vedic times. Therefore there is no democracy in Bhagavatam – whoever has the real power gets to dictate the rules, that’s the law, and it works in “democracies”, too.

More interesting is a lesson on “independent media”. Traditional idea is that democratic societies need independent media so that people can make informed choices about direction of their countries. Russians don’t have that, they say. True, but Russians don’t see the role of the media in the same way. Since they reject democracy (not really, but to make it simple) then there is no need for the informed population. People who make choices have to be properly informed and others have to be either encouraged or assuaged or given something to keep busy with, and that’s what the rulers need media for. Did you get this – “rulers need media”? Because this understanding rules out any need for independence.

What’s interesting is that Russians are the last to arrive at this conclusion while in the West they nailed it thirty-forty years ago. In the 90s Chomsky was already writing articles on how western media doesn’t do what it’s supposed to and it doesn’t serve people [to inform them]. Today they say Russians don’t have access to alternative viewpoints. Not true – several popular outlets have been shut down only after the war started but had a free go for decades. People listened to them, they gathered their loyal following (pro-western, needless to say), but they failed to capture the collective mind, and when the war started the government decided that their nonsense it could afford during peace cannot be allowed during war.

Once again, if it was a “modern war” fought by distant people in distant places it would not have mattered much, like these pro-western media were allowed to present alternative views on Russian involvement in Syria, but this war is too close to home to allow for any fissure between the government and the people.

More on independence – it doesn’t exist, as I said, so it’s not a question of having independent media but rather a question of who these media depend upon. Legally, it means being designated as a “foreign agent”. Usually it comes with proof of foreign funding, going to organizations like US National Endowment for Democracy and the like. Having your stuff trained by these organizations is another sign of being a “foreign agent”.

Non-Russian audience is not expected to know but Russian cultural elites are very much like Hollywood – liberal to the core. Outside we are informed of relentless Russian propaganda but there is a large number of Russian movies which offer alternative narratives of events like Russian participation in WWII, which is traditionally close to Russian heart. They glorify or at least humanize traitors and Nazi collaborators, they present Soviet army officers as bloodthirsty monsters killing their own soldiers etc etc. These movies invariably bomb at the box office but, and here is a mind blowing fact – most of them are made on government subsidies! This is the extent of pro-western elites grasp on Russian cultural space – they own it.

A few years ago a famous director made a TV serial about a Russian security officer who discovered an American regime change plot involving Russian sleeper agents recruited back in the 90s. The elites would not tolerate it and the director had to publicly apologize for making such a pro-Russian serial and second season had to be directed by someone else. So no, it’s not true that Russians have no exposure to alternative views – they do, or they did before the war, and they rejected them. Why? Many reasons, but a prominent one is probably because they see that this agenda doesn’t have their best interests at heart. Propaganda is propaganda, and they prefer to be lied by their own government, which is another interesting point.

Western ideal is privately held, not government controlled media. Okay, but private companies work for the profit of their owners while governments work for the welfare of the citizens. Corporate media wants to make money off you and the government wants you to be happy. Government takes responsibility for its citizens and cannot fire them whatever they do. Businesses take no responsibility for their workers and if they don’t fit in corporate culture they are let go and they have to fend for themselves. Governments don’t do that – they are always with you, like the Paramatma.

Which media model is better? It’s a no brainer – government one, but in today’s world it’s the opposite. Governments are supposed to be our enemies intent on cheating us and abusing their power, and corporations are presented as our true friends so that we give them all our money, meaning all our labor. Isn’t it amazing what maya makes us believe?

This is getting too long and I better wrap up. All in all, this war gives us an opportunity to see how Vedic laws still work even as the reality is covered by illusion of independence and “democracy”. Here is one last argument to ponder.

There is a legitimate question – if nobody is independent, what is Russia and Putin are depended on? If Ukraine should depend on Russia then what about Russia itself? A hundred and fifty years ago one German observer commented – Russia is dependent directly on God. Why? Because if it were not so then there would be no rational reason for Russia still keeping itself together. One could make the same argument about ISKCON, too.

And an atmospheric picture as a farewell. Death flying on the back of western anti-tank missile.

PS. None of the above seems to be about spiritual matters, but I would argue that these realizations are necessary on the way to “brahma-bhuta” platform. We must learn to see things as they are, free from illusion and propaganda. Like what progress do you expect if you can’t come to terms with your own personality and refuse to accept and act according to your own nature? The process is called “self-realization” for a reason.

16 comments on “War Progress

  1. Well, a lot of things could be excused and the world is not black and white. Nevertheless, Russian army is not kshatriyas and the atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities clearly show this. Russians got their asses kicked in Kyiv but no kshatriya would take their defeat on civilians.

    And the war is not about some potential weapons in Ukraine but desire to rob Ukrainians of their identity.

    I can understand for devotees taking neutral stance because spiritual life is more important than mundane matters and even the war. But blatantly justifying aggressor? I used to be tolerant of Putin because he managed to put some order in the country. But not anymore. It is ok to admit mistakes and realize that there is something very bad happing in Russia now.

    • I would disagree with your basic facts, like “Russians were beaten in Kyiv” and “Russians massacred people in Bucha”. Because of this disagreement we have very different assessment of people’s character, too.

      Also, why would Putin want to rob Ukrainians of their identity? How would you rationalize such a desire? He keeps saying that Russians and Ukrainians are brotherly nations, with Belarus to complete the trio, but you saying he wants the opposite of that? On what grounds? It doesn’t make sense.

      • All evidence shows that Russians committed massacre in Bucha. How else you would call Russian inability to take Kyiv?

        Clearly Ukrainians don’t want to be a part of this trio. That’s all Ukrainian devotees who are my friends are telling me.

        I understand that many world leaders are basically demons. Putin is no exception, he is one of the biggest demons. If devotees are starting to support him, no wonder the whole Hare Krishna movement is having big troubles. Do not trust those demons. Be truthful (satyam). Truthfulness is the last leg of dharma in this age. When it is lost, everything will be lost.

      • Well, Russians say that these bodies were brought in after they left. Their first argument was that the bodies looked too fresh. And then NYT came up with satellite images claiming that these bodies were lying there for three weeks. That’s simply not possible. There are other arguments why “Bucha massacre” scenario is implausible and they can be argued endlessly. The bigger point is that Russians do not feel any guilt over it whatsoever. Their collective consciousness is that they didn’t do it, they would never do something like this, it’s not in their nature. After this episode their self-perception has clearly improved and they did not whip themselves up in seeking bloody revenge for it. They are still pretty cool headed about the war, thinking about it rationally and not emotionally.

        About Russian inability to take Kyiv – this implies they wanted to take in the first place, which they didn’t. The number of troops they brought was never meant for taking on a four million people city.

        Ukrainians might not want to be a part of the trio but it’s like renouncing your family – you can never stop being a son or a daughter or a brother or a sister. It’s who you are and imagining that you can become someone else is a folly. Your dreams will crash.

        The idea of Ukrainians being unique didn’t even exist thirty years ago, while the region has at least a thousand year old history. Never mind that, they can dream up whatever identity they want, but not if it starts causing problems to others.

        Personally, I don’t think Putin cared much about Donbass all these years but Russian public demands justice and for them it’s the sufficient reason to stop Ukrainian nonsense once and for all already.

        For Russians it’s a continuation of the war against fascism, with today’s Ukrainians professing the same ideology, marching under the same flags, and praising the same heroes. They crystallized it into “my nation is better than the others and others do not deserve to live as equal to me.”

        This is the same message Putin sent to Americans a few years ago – you are not unique and exceptional and other nations have their own right to live however they want. This is what “multi-polar world” means.

        What exactly is demoniac about this vision?

      • It is clear that Russians did massacre in Bucha. What exactly is not possible in the given evidence? I know that it is so shocking and hard to accept but it is truth.

        Russians lost about 10,000 soldiers in attacking Kyiv and you say they didn’t want to take it? Really? You really believe that or are you just messing with me?

        Again, if a family member want to go their separate ways and have been doing that for 30 years already, what rights someone has to bring him or her forcibly back?

        Russia was very serious in Donbas. They provided powerful weapons to rebels that shot down the flight ML17 (by mistake, it was targeted to Ukrainian jets). Most of civilians who died in 2014 there were killed by pro-Russian rebels weapons.

        The real fascists now are Russians.

        You wrote some nonsensical article about lying. Are you going to justify now that it is ok for Russians to lie about all this? Yudhishtira lied once by the request of Krishna but he did that to support dharma. What dharma is supported by Putin?

        I listened to Bhakti Vijnana Goswami Maharaja about this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S68O3ill2eQ). I don’t know if you understand Russian but he clearly says that vaishnavas should be above politics, nevertheless they should never support adharma. Russian army in Ukraine is committing adharma by killing and torturing civilians.

      • It’s impossible for those bodies to lie in the streets for three weeks and still look fresh. It’s impossible for so many people to be out on that street at the same time. It’s impossible for them not to scatter around at the first sound of gunshots.

        Yesterday Guardian had an article saying that many people in Bucha were killed by a special type of ammunition called “flechettes”. It’s fired by howitzers. Russians occupied Bucha for a month and it’s impossible for them to both occupy it and shell it at the same time. Nor do Russians use those Soviet era howitzers anymore.

        10,000 killed Russians is unsubstantiated. Russian MoD gives much lower numbers, and they are they ones who have to inform the families and keep all kinds of records. Ukrainians or Americans, on the other hand, carry absolutely no responsibility for their estimates. They can say whatever they want, so why should we believe them?

        Around Kiev Ukrainian forces outnumbered Russians 2.5 to 1, while for an offensive the ration should go the other way, which is what Russians did in Mariupol – create numerical advantage, then attack. In Kiev they could only hold Ukrainians in place, nothing more.

        Russians did not provide Buk launcher to Donbass – it’s not how Buks operate. They need a separate radar and a separate command post support, and special reloading vehicles, too. One single launcher driven around is useless.

        People of Donbass who have been shelled for eight years will disagree with you that it’s their own who have been killing them. It’s ridiculous. The shelling still continues, btw, just yesterday two people were killed there.

        I’ve listened to BDG, too – he is right, but the critical error in application lies in assigning adharmic behavior. I mean issuing a wrong judgment on what the crime is and who perpetrated it.

        Like in Bucha – if Russians did it then they should be punished and we all should take a moral stand, but if they didn’t then it doesn’t apply and the actual perpetrator has to be found, even if you are absolutely right that killing of civilians is adharmic.

      • Did you inspect the bodies in Bucha? They didn’t look fresh to me on photos. Also it was a winter temperatures below zero, so I didn’t expect quick rotting in any case. You are grasping to straws and honestly that is terrible because denying war crimes is immoral thing. You will just lose all credibility.

        Russian MoD is not even pretending to give a credible information. Everything they say now is complete propaganda. While Ukrainian numbers may be inflated for obvious reasons, independent estimates are that more than 10,000 Russian soldiers are killed in this war. Russian hoped for quick victory, they even made reservation in Kyiv restaurants to celebrate victory a few days in advance. In reality they met their death and mothers are not even allowed to know what happened to their sons. How can you support such a regime?

        You pretend to have a knowledge about how Buks operate. I frankly don’t believe that you have such detailed knowledge. Either you are just imagining that you and talking over your head. Or alternatively, that you have it but then you are not a devotee but someone with a specific task to wage propaganda on internet. Your choice.

      • Some days in March temperature went up to +22 Celsius.

        Here is one picture from Bucha where the dead man looks better than the rescue worker:

        Dead body in Bucha

        Russian MoD has responsibility for their words, “western observers” have none, to anybody, much less to people who watch the news.

        My knowledge of Buks comes from discussing these things eight years ago. You can actually google it. Here is Wikipedia article on how Buks operate – all the components are listed there.

        You, with your own choices, can designate me however you want. I simply know what I’m talking about.

    • That article appeared at the same time the story hit the press as if it was a part of the same propaganda effort. The editors already knew who was responsible and already assigned the blame. Anybody can create a wiki page and write whatever he wants on it, you know that, right?

      Interestingly, first versions of the page talked about killing Russian speaking men, as if it’s naturally what Russian soldiers do in Ukraine – find Russian speaking people and kill them. I’m being sarcastic. Incidentally, many of the victims were wearing white armbands, which is how people identified as Russian friendlies. Russian soldiers themselves wear white armbands, too.

      So, who could have killed Russian speaking people wearing Russian identifications? Russians, of course! I’m being sarcastic again.

      Wiki page does not address the problem of “fresh” corpses lying in the street for three weeks, in the sun, in the rain, freezing and thawing.

      Latest from Human Right Watch, btw:

      “Human Rights Watch documented the details of 16 apparently unlawful killings in Bucha, including nine summary executions and seven indiscriminate killings of civilians – 15 men and a woman.”

      16 apparently unlawful killings – that’s not much of massacre for a war zone. How many of them were Russian speaking with Russian identification? Not a word on the time frame of their deaths either.

      When Ukrainians moved in after Russians left one of their commanders posted a video where one soldier asks if it’s okay to shoot people without blue armband and gets an affirmative answer. Towards the end of the video someone screams, way off camera: “Please don’t kill me”, this was followed by two gunshots. That’s what I heard as well, though that video needs to be properly investigated.

      This is what Ukrainians post themselves, it’s not Russian propaganda, and it easily explains existence of freshly killed people with white armbands.

      The rest of HRW report is a hearsay – someone saw 200 dead people, another one saw 50. No mention that dozens, as reported by Guardian, were killed by special kind of ammunition called “flechettes”. This ammunition is used by Soviet era howitzers still deployed by Ukrainian army. Guardian, btw, without blinking an eye states that it was Russians who were shelling Bucha, as if it’s what Russians naturally do – take over the city and then start shelling it.

      • That’s exactly the question to you: why then did you provide a wikipedia source yourself?

        I am not here to convince you. This is the question to you for yourself. How do you deal with your conscience?

        The reasons of this war are very clearly explained by the Russian supremacist Anatoly Karlin. He has a blog where he writes about the intended goals (https://akarlin.substack.com/). He might not be precise in details, after all he is not an academic or politician, just some guy on internet but he clearly reflects what many Russians think with regards to Ukraine. He was wrong in his predictions but one thing I like in him is that he is completely honest. He stopped writing on the blog but is still active on twitter. He is much better than those who deny apparent things. It is one thing to say – that I am pro war, Russia needs to recover its greatness however brutal it is. And another thing is to lie and lie and lie continuously about everything and every detail. Satyam is the last leg of the religion and when it is lost everything is lost.

      • As I said, anybody can write an article on Wikipedia, so in each case we have to look into who has written what and why. I have no problem with people listing technical specifications or with specialists sharing information on the development of abugida scripts or other non-controversial subjects. When it comes to politics, religion, and wars, however, wiki editors tend to be pro-western, left-leaning liberal atheists and so their work has to be either rejected in toto or at least their bias filtered out.

        I briefly looked at Karlin’s last couple of articles. Do you mean to say that Putin really wants to re-unite three Slavic people? I don’t think so, but nature might impose itself in the end anyway. Right now the talk is about partitioning Ukraine with Poland taking what it lost in 1939, Russia taking “Novorossia”, and Ukraine keeping Kiev and being neutral.

        Reuniting actual people is beyond Putin’s remit, it’s a work for several generations living in peace.

        The US, as a dying empire, won’t let that happen unless it gets distracted elsewhere.

  2. That’s exactly what I am talking about. Your views are fully political – partitioning Ukraine, a job bigger than Putin can do, and US as a dying empire… While I also read news and follow the events, I don’t care anything about that. Even most non-devotees have less interests about future world order (except woke leftists/far right).

    My only question now – how many Bucha massacres do you think will it take to establish this “Vedic world order”?

    • I didn’t even read Karlin’s article.

      Partitioning is devised by Ukraine’s western “partners”.

      What’s that about “Vedic world order”?

      I’m not going to limit myself by what most devotees or non-devotees take interest in.

      • You have the views that are so characteristic of Karlin. The details are different but not the essence. They are basically the same Russian nationalistic views that are shared by many Russians and which are very divorced from reality. It is really surprising for a devotee to have such views. Besides being close to fundamentalism, they will taint the image of Hare Krishna movement worldwide. Really sad.

      • There is nothing in the comment above for me to reply to. It’s just a set of unsubstantiated proclamations and, ironically, it follows by “you are divorced from reality” judgment.

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